Republican congressional candidate Diane Harkey told Breitbart News that she was “cautiously optimistic” about her commanding early lead in Tuesday’s primary election to replace Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) in California’s 49th district, and said she expects a very tough and “probably extremely nasty” general election ahead.
Harkey spoke with Breitbart news via phone from the San Diego Republican election night headquarters at Golden Hall on Tuesday. She heaped praise on the enthusiastic “foot soldiers on the ground” who made calls and volunteered in support of her bid.
Harkey credited early endorsements for giving her a “leg up” in recruiting volunteers. “It was just tremendous, I mean we’ve got a lot of hard-working volunteers and we incorporated all of them,” she remarked. Those volunteers were described as “very enthusiastic.”
Harkey, who serves as a Republican member of the California Board of Equalization, won 25.5% of the vote in a field featuring over a dozen competitors from both major and minor parties. Her closest competitors were Democrat lawyer Mike Levin, who took second with 17.1%, and Democrat Sara Jacobs, granddaughter of billionaire Qualcomm co-founder Irwin Jacobs, who had 15.5% with 100% of precincts reporting. There were slightly more Democratic votes than Republican votes overall.
Looking forward to the general election, Harkey said her team has “already got the momentum, we’ve got the ground groups and the team.”
Speaking before leading Democrat was known, she added: “Whoever is on the other side of the aisle is going to have to try to coalesce those who did not support them, which will be a large quantity of people because they’ve had so many candidates all fighting very, very hard and tearing the other one down.”
“I expect it to be a very, very tough election, a very probably extremely nasty election,” she predicted.
Issa held on to his seat by a margin of less than one percent against Democrat challenger Doug Applegate in 2016. President Barack Obama himself fought for Applegate in that election, hosting a $10,000-a-plate fundraiser in La Jolla, California, for the candidate.
Harkey acknowledged that Democrats would fight hard for the seat, but said that Republicans would, too. She noted that House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who endorsed her for Issa’s seat, “as the [potential] next Speaker will benefit this district tremendously.”
Harkey was elected to the California Board of Equalization in November 2014 and previously served as a member of the California State Assembly. Her background includes over 30 years in banking and finance.
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